I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Becky. We first met when we were 5 years old and she’s since grown into this brilliant, kind, wise human being, right under my nose.
So, we sat down on a heathland and I asked Becky about fixing the planet, maintaining a calm, balanced approach to life and – squee – coming out and getting engaged!
First of all, I want to talk to you about saving the world. I was trying to think about what turned you onto…
What turns me on?
Yeah, that. But also what turned you onto the eco-friendly, environmentally conscious path you’re on now. Tell me about that.
I’ve always recycled but that was about it. Then I started following Zanna Van Dijk on Instagram – she’s awesome and the reason I started doing all this.
A while ago, she posted a video about giving up beef. I didn’t think much about it, just ‘oh, cool’. And then I saw those chicken videos – everyone’s seen them – you know where there are thousands of chickens all standing on top of each other? I started thinking: ‘do I really want to contribute to that? Maybe not’. Then, like most people, I stopped thinking about it and went: ’It’s fine, I’ll just buy free range eggs instead!’
But then I watched Cowspiracy on Netflix. And that’s when I said: ‘OK, this is quite serious. I should do something about it’. So I gave up beef. That program highlighted stuff you wouldn’t even think about, like how many litres of water it takes to raise a cow. How much deforestation has occurred to grow crops to feed the cows. How much methane the cows produce… It’s really bad for the environment.
Sounds like a lot of ball ache just so someone can eat a burger…
That’s kind of what I thought. The problem is only getting worse – the world’s population is growing and we are greedier than ever. And we eat more fast food, so I don’t know if it’s going to get better. But if I can help, I will! It’s been nearly two months and I don’t miss beef at all.
Is your end goal vegetarianism?
By the end of the year, definitely. I’ve cut out beef and lamb, pork is next. I thought if I do it in phases, it’s more likely to be sustainable. If you just go ‘right, I’m going to be vegetarian’ without doing your research and finding alternatives, you’ll just end up eating chips.
If you’re thinking of going vegetarian, try to experiment with alternatives, look up veggie recipes, choose vegetarian dishes when you go out.
I want to try doing vegan days too, although I don’t see myself becoming properly vegan at the moment. It’s too overwhelming. But I can definitely cut down on dairy. Not eating beef helps but the dairy industry is still pretty bad. There are so many types of milk now, you don’t really need to drink cows’ milk anyway.
It’s weird that we do that – and that’s coming from a carnivorous milk drinker.
Yeah – when you break it down, it’s really weird. Like, why do we do that? Why do we drink milk from cows? It’s made for calves!
This is about to make me question all my life choices. What are some steps people can take to make them feel better about plastic consumption?
An obvious one is no plastic bags. That’s way easier since shops started charging for them. Invest in reusable bags and remember to take them shopping with you. You can get ones that scrunch up really small for your handbag so you can always have one on you.
Another one is reusable coffee cups. That way you’re not using up a cup and a plastic lid every time. Quite often you save money doing that too. And if you have coffee every day, you’ll save 365 cups!
No plastic straws is an important one. But lots of companies are switching to paper, which fills my heart with joy!
And if you eat a lot of take-out or street food, bring your own boxes. A lot of places will fill up a box for you so you’re not using endless plastic boxes every time.
That’s such a good tip, I’d never have thought of the last one. You always end up with so many plastic Tupperware boxes from Chinese takeaways!
Unless you’re planning on batch-cooking for a thousand people, you’ll never use them all.
Trust me, I’m not planning on doing that.
Oh, and another tip: Buy loose fruit and veg instead of the ones wrapped in plastic. I always do that now, even if it means going to the greengrocers instead of Asda or Tesco.
You’re making me sound like a guru or an expert, which I’m really not. I’m just trying.
I’m not into perfectly complete people. You don’t need to have accomplished everything you set out to do already. You’re trying to be a better person.
Shouldn’t you always be trying to be a better person? Even if you’re 90?
Definitely, there’s always something you can do. On a slight change of topic, am I allowed to talk about Rio?
Of course you can! She’d love it.
Yes! OK, one of my favourite stories is when you came out and told me you were dating Rio. I don’t know if you remember that? It was like, March 2017 and we were sitting in Nandos, planning our Paris trip.
That’s very specific, well done for remembering that!
I was really surprised but trying so, so hard to be absolutely cool about it. So much so that I sort of forgot that it’s a normal human reaction to be surprised!
You just went really quiet. I could tell you were processing it and I think I knew I’d shocked you. I’ve never known you not to have words before!
Outwardly I was trying to be like: ‘Oh, that’s cool, whatever’.
Saying ‘that’s totally fine!’ but in the back of your head, you’re like: ‘What!? Everything I know is a lie!’ It was a bit of a shocker, I kind of threw that one at you, didn’t I?
When I got home and processed it, I was like: ‘THIS IS SO COOL!’
First time I’ve ever been cool in my life.
It’s a special memory I have of you now. Out of curiosity, was I one of the easy ones to come out to?
Yeah! Everyone reacted a lot better than I thought they would.
I felt really proud of you.
Aw, thank you.
It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there though, doesn’t it? And being OK with people’s reactions.
I didn’t really think about it at the time. It was just something I had to do. I think you know yourself a lot more in your 20s – I was 26 – and I felt like: ‘Well, this is a thing now, and people can deal with it or fuck off’.
Which is the best possible attitude you can have.
If you’re 16 and having to say ‘oh, this is my girlfriend’, you’re probably feeling more insecure about yourself and worried about what people think. I feel like you know yourself much more in your 20s and can have the confidence to say ‘OK, bye’ if people don’t like it.
I think you’ve been growing up under my nose this whole time! You’ve become this super confident, balanced person, which I don’t think I saw it until that moment.
I don’t feel like a proper grown-up.
I don’t think many people do.
Do you not still feel like you’re a 15 year old?
Yes, absolutely! I feel like I need to talk more about Rio. How did you meet? And how long did you know her before thinking: ‘One day, I’m gonna get engaged to this girl’?
At work, and about a year and a half.
So what happened?
It all came out at the Christmas party and I’ll say no more than that.
That’s always the way.
All the dirty laundry gets aired there.
I think that’s secretly what a work Christmas party is for.
Just to ruin everyone’s year.
So, the Christmas party happened. Then what?
Then horrible break ups. No fun. But a bit later she surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam. I’d always wanted to go and one day I said I felt fed up because it was January or February. And she said: ‘Oh I’ve got something to cheer you up!’ and she sent me the flight details. That was so cool.
Rio is such a good egg. And then a year and a half on from that… A very epic proposal. Could you quickly do a recap?
At the start of the week, Rio had said: ‘Let’s have a nice date. We’ll dress up, have a 3-course dinner and wine, then we can go for a little walk afterwards’. I thought that was really nice, we hadn’t done that in a while.
We went down to the quay, dressed up really nice. Then after dinner, she said: ‘I know somewhere nice to go for a walk’. We drove to Hamworthy and she took me to a place called Lake Pier.
It was around a quarter to 10, so the sun was going down and it was really beautiful. There’s a pier there, and to the left of that is a boardwalk you can go down. Someone had put a tablecloth at the end of it, with candles leading up the walkway. And there was champagne and speakers playing Ed Sheeran, who’s my favourite.
I was like: ‘Oh my god, she’s gone all out for date night! This is great!’ And she said: ‘Why don’t you take some photos of the sunset?’
I stood up and started taking photos, then she tapped me on the shoulder. I was like: ‘Hang on a minute!’, I was trying to get my camera to focus. She tapped me again, I turned round, and she was on one knee. And that’s the story!
That is such a gorgeous proposal! You seem very together and happy in what you’re doing in life. How do you do that? Asking for a friend…
Well, huh. I think, first of all, you have to really, really get to know who you are. It sounds like a massive cliche, but you genuinely need to know who you are, so you know what you want and what you don’t want. And what you actually like, and what you wanna give your time to.
Going travelling alone is a good way to do that. Just spend time alone. Even if you hate it – especially if you hate it, actually. Then it’s even more important.
Once you figure who you are, you can make decisions with confidence (in my case, Rio). And then you can focus on doing what actually makes you happy, I guess. That sounds like a cop out.
I think sometimes things are cliche for a reason. Because people have been saying them for a long time. Any other Becky pearls of wisdom you’d like to share?
Hmm. Be true to yourself, always. And never settle – I think that’s my mantra now.
YES. I’m 100% down with that motto.
These are all cliches. But like you say, cliches for a reason. I’d say:
- Don’t ever settle, or you won’t be happy.
- Be true to yourself.
- Go with your gut.
- Do what you think is right.
- Don’t actually give a shit what other people think about you.
Love it, that last one reminds me of a RuPaul quote: ‘What other people think of me is none of my business’.
That is beautiful, I like that. I read a good one the other day, actually: ‘You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea or you’d be a mug’.
I really enjoy that one. And finally, what has been your greatest achievement?
Ooh, I think it’s being with Rio.
Well, we’re getting married! I’m very happy.
I went with my gut on that one. People told us not to do it.
And I still feel like, even though it’s 2018, coming out is pretty scary.
I guess looking back, it was quite scary. When I was having to tell everyone, I was getting knots in my stomach. And I kept thinking: ‘Oh my god, should I just not say anything? I’ll not say anything’. But then I thought: ‘No, this can’t go on forever’.
It’s one of those things, you just have to do it. Most people took it a lot better than I thought! And with some people, it happened the opposite way round. I wasn’t sure how my Dad would take it but he was totally cool. My Mum had a harder time getting to grips with it but she absolutely loves Rio now. She probably likes her more than me.
We all do.
You can go off people, you know?
It’s coming up to 15 years in September. That’s a lot of friendship.
That’s mad isn’t it? You’re my longest friendship.
I remember it so well! It was our changeover day for senior school, and the new teacher was like ‘you have to pair up with someone–’
‘– who you didn’t come from middle school with…’
And then we immediately–
– just looked at each other–
– and that was it!
I was like: ‘I know Nikki McMullen! I’ll go with her.’
I think the best friendships are built on fear of social interaction. I’m very glad we picked each other.
And that was it, we then sat on a hill eating sweets for the rest of the evening. Thank you so, so much for talking to me, Becky!
I think Becky’s my first non-blogger interviewee, but I’m trying to persuade her to document her vegetarian, eco-warrior lifestyle on Instagram. Why wouldn’t you want to follow the best human ever (@beckylj_90)?